Paul Iwan – Present: Album Review

Tired by the weight of your memories? Paul Iwan returns with a classy set of songs to ease the pain.

Release Date:  8th April 2022

Label: Klee Music

Formats: CD / digital / vinyl

In his own words: “Merging acoustic and electronic instruments has always been what interests me musically. Artists like Gary Numan, Bjork, Depeche Mode and Peter Gabriel are major muses; in terms of melody, the Manic Street Preachers, Radiohead and Supergrass are constant sources of inspiration.”

It’s an ambitious statement from Paul Iwan, but as we’ve liked to say of late, he has form, so it’s not without justitification. His latest set finds him asking: “How do we get to the truth in a post-truth world?” His answers come in swathes and washes of keyboard drenched melodies as he explores the humanity at a crossroads theme and how we can make pertinent choices for the future.

Don’t be scared of the night,” he croons as a crescedo of lushness sweeps in on the perefctly placed Loss that gets the hooks firmly entrenched. Loving and losing – the snapshot of the thought that it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all – sets us up beautifully. The gentle intro to Further Away lulls befor exploding into his trademark electronic fanfares as those influences kick in. The increasingly frantic delivery rears its head again on Hunter – “it’s dragging me under,” he sings as the demons are repelled; the “screams in the silence / flashes of violence” accompanied by the comfort of a warm enveloping texture.

On the other side of the coin, you’ll find tracks like Inside which have a radio friendly, mainstream and mass appeal quality delivered with a nod to an irresistable classy vocal delivery. With Still it forms a potent and upliftingManics / Keane pairing. The latter thankfully hangs around a little longer – could be the concession to a particaulrly Midge Ure-ish guitar solo that gives the number some legs – than the conciseness that Iwan brings to his songwriting.

And no matter what the starting point – maybe the gentle riffing on Hurt, the stark mood on a brooding Mono, the blood and thunder rampage of the instrumental Ley Lines or the vignette of Present – you’re never too far away from a seductive melody or a inspirational rush.

He might laugh as he quotes fellow Liverpudlian John Lennon: “It’s very easy, all you have to do is say what you mean, make it rhyme and put a beat to it,” but ithere’s more to Paul Iwan than that. He’s lived the songs, invested in them and there’s a passion and commitment in the arrangements and most of all the performance.

How long Paul Iwan will remain under the radar is uncertain. We’re lucky to have been on the right side for some time and seen his progress. What is certain though, is that given the quality of his work which stands loud and proud on Present, he shouldn’t be standing on the edge for too long.

Watch the lyric video for Control from the album here:

Paul Iwan online:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Youtube

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